Dutch peace campaigner Willemien H faces up to a month in jail following a peaceful protest at the Faslane nuclear submarine base near Helensburgh on Wednesday morning.
The retired sonar engineer, a resident of the nearby Faslane Peace Camp, was arrested and charged with Breach of the Peace when she chained herself to others to block traffic entering the base on Tuesday morning, in commemoration of the atomic bombing of Japan during the Second World War. Appearing at Dumbarton Justice of the Peace Court on her own behalf the following day, she plead “not guilty” and rejected the bail terms offered by the Procurator-Fiscal and accepted by the court.
The terms presented would have seen the elderly protestor barred from entering within a 100m radius of the Faslane and Coulport submarine sites — conditions she found incompatible with her human rights and religious beliefs. A regular attendee of both political demonstrations and Catholic and Quaker meetings held at Faslane, Willemien asserted that prohibiting her attendance at these events breached her rights of religious freedom and freedom of expression. She further described how, as a nearby local, her daily life would be disrupted as ordinary travel became impossible.
The campaigner also highlighted a similar case from last year, which took nine months to come to trial, and affirmed that she could not accept any restrictions which were indefinite in duration.
The court upheld the prosecution’s request and remanded Willemien for trial on September 6th. She is expected to arrive at HMP Edinburgh later today.
Last year, veteran campaigners Angie Zelter and Brian Quail were jailed after refusing the same conditions, causing a public outcry. They were released two weeks later on standard conditions of bail.
Fellow protester Jamie Watson, who was arrested with Willemein on Tuesday morning, said: “It is an outrage that we are seeing someone locked up for their beliefs in 21st-century Scotland. The idea that fortified sites patrolled by armed police and military have to be protected from a devout humanitarian like Willemien is ridiculous. Not for the first time, the dignity of the military establishment is taking precedence over our democratic rights.”
Peace Camper Iona Soper added: “Since arriving in Scotland, Willemien has attended more demonstrations and religious observations at the submarine base than anyone else in that time, without issue. She has no previous convictions, and is charged with the most trivial of public order offences!
“She is an avid reader, and we encourage friends and supporters to write to her in prison — the longer the letter the better! She should also be able to receive any books she is sent.”
You can write to Willemien at this address:
149440 Willemien H
H M Prison Edinburgh
33 Stenhouse Road